Atopic dermatitis affects an estimated 2% to 3% of elderly people. And while adults 60 and older tend to have a distinct atopic dermatitis presentation and important comorbidities, dermatologists treating these patients find lacking evidence on how to diagnose and best treat atopic dermatitis in the elderly, according to a review published March 21, 2019 in the British Journal of Dermatology.
“Elderly patients with [atopic dermatitis] rarely achieve complete disease remission, and many affected patients eventually die with the condition,” write Anna De Benedetto, M.D., and colleagues at University of Florida College of Medicine, Gaineseville, Fla.
Elderly atopic dermatitis patients tend to present with the reverse sign of lichenified eczema at the antecubital and popliteal fossae, according to the review.
Aging, alone, likely results in pathophysiologic changes that could trigger or worsen atopic dermatitis.
There’s strong evidence that physical or environmental irritation, along with a defective aged epidermal barrier might contribute to the development of atopic dermatitis in elderly patients. The reduction in skin barrier function associated with getting older can exacerbate atopic dermatitis. And older skin has a harder time repairing itself than young skin does.
1. Williamson S, Merritt J, De benedetto A. Atopic dermatitis in the elderly: a review of clinical and pathophysiological
hallmarks. Br J Dermatol. 2019;.